Af­ter tout­ing Gazy­va's po­ten­tial in lu­pus, Roche nabs 'break­through' ahead of PhI­II

Roche’s ef­fort to in­tro­duce its blood can­cer drug Gazy­va to the im­munol­o­gy space just got a boost from the FDA.

Reg­u­la­tors have grant­ed break­through des­ig­na­tion to the use of the CD20-tar­get­ing an­ti­body in lu­pus nephri­tis, a life-threat­en­ing man­i­fes­ta­tion of sys­temic lu­pus ery­the­mato­sus in the kid­ney. Up to 60% of all peo­ple with lu­pus — dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly women — de­vel­op such in­flam­ma­tion in the kid­ney, the Lu­pus Foun­da­tion of Amer­i­ca es­ti­mates.

Im­muno­sup­pres­sants such as my­cophe­no­late mofetil or my­cophe­no­lic acid and cor­ti­cos­teroids are the cur­rent stan­dard of care, but Roche CMO San­dra Horn­ing not­ed that new treat­ment op­tions are need­ed. In a Phase II study, in­ves­ti­ga­tors showed that adding Gazy­va to the reg­i­men helped a larg­er pro­por­tion of pa­tients achieve com­plete re­nal re­sponse at one year.

A Phase III tri­al is slat­ed to be­gin next year.

While Gazy­va has pre­vi­ous­ly been po­si­tioned as a po­ten­tial suc­ces­sor to the ag­ing Rit­ux­an fran­chise, Roche re­cent­ly high­light­ed its po­ten­tial in lu­pus on its Phar­ma Day ear­li­er this week.

The ther­a­peu­tic piv­ot is part of a larg­er at­tempt to re­duce Roche’s de­pen­dence on the es­tab­lished — and high­ly prof­itable — on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio in fa­vor of nov­el drugs and tar­gets, Cowen an­a­lyst Steve Scala wrote in a note.

Roche made clear that mar­gins were not suf­fer­ing through the launch of new growth dri­vers Ocre­vus (mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis) and Hem­li­bra (he­mo­phil­ia). Ro­bust up­take of both drugs has buoyed the topline while new pro­duc­tiv­i­ty ini­tia­tives saved costs, ex­em­pli­fied by suc­cess­ful launch­es de­spite adding no head count to sales forces. The com­pa­ny hopes to repli­cate this suc­cess when launch­ing in­to NMOSD with satral­izum­ab, IBD with etrolizum­ab, SMA with ris­diplam, Hunt­ing­ton’s with ASO-HTT, and lu­pus with Gazy­va.

The drug has been ap­proved to treat chron­ic lym­pho­cyt­ic leukemia and fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma, with or fol­low­ing chemo. Its 2018 sales to­taled CHF 390 mil­lion (rough­ly $392 mil­lion).

In­side Track: Be­hind the Scenes of a Ma­jor Biotech SPAC

Dr. David Hung and Michelle Doig are no strangers to the SPAC phenomenon. As Founder and CEO of Nuvation Bio, a biotech company tackling some of the greatest unmet needs in oncology, Dr. Hung recently took the company public in one of this year’s biggest SPAC related deals. And as Partner at Omega Funds, Doig not only led and syndicated Nuvation Bio’s Series A, but is now also President of the newly formed, Omega-sponsored, Omega Alpha SPAC (Nasdaq: OMEG; oversubscribed $138m IPO priced January 6, 2021).

Barry Greene, Sage CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Sage's sec­ond chance at de­pres­sion hits the PhI­II pri­ma­ry, but ques­tions re­main over dura­bil­i­ty, side ef­fects

Looking to make a comeback after a big Phase III flop, Sage Therapeutics revealed data they believe could change the entire depression treatment landscape, given the vast array of failures in the field. But some results are spooking investors, sending Sage $SAGE shares down early Tuesday.

First, the primary: Sage and Biogen reported Phase III data for once-daily zuranolone Tuesday morning, saying the experimental drug hit its primary endpoint by spurring a statistically significant change from baseline in the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score. After 15 days, patients in the drug arm saw an average change of -14.1 points, compared to -12.3 on placebo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bio­gen sig­nals a big PhI­II fail­ure as the lead gene ther­a­py in their $800M Night­star buy­out goes down in flames

That $800 million buyout of Nightstar has turned into a bust for Biogen as the lead therapy in the deal failed a pivotal study, signaling a severe setback for the biotech’s ambitions in gene therapies.

The big biotech put out the word after the market closed on Monday that the gene therapy they picked up in the deal for a degenerative blindness called choroideremia failed the Phase III study, just a month after their #2 drug in the deal also flopped in a mid-stage study.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Lynn Fitch, Mississippi Attorney General (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images)

Mis­sis­sip­pi sues Eli Lil­ly, Sanofi and No­vo over in­sulin prices as in­ter­change­able biosim­i­lars may ar­rive soon

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch last week sued the top three insulin manufacturers, which collectively cover almost the entire US insulin market, alleging that they’ve colluded to raise their prices in lockstep, and in some cases by more than 1,000% for drugs that are decades old.

“Because of Manufacturer Defendants’ collusive price increases, nearly a century after the discovery of insulin, diabetes medications have become unaffordable for many diabetics,” the lawsuit says.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CEO Harith Rajagopalan (Fractyl)

Af­ter a decade in the type 2 di­a­betes game, Fractyl Lab­o­ra­to­ries recharges with a fresh $100M and a new name

Harith Rajagopalan compared the way type 2 diabetes is managed to sticking your fingers in a dam that’s leaking from a number of places.

You can take drugs to lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure, but you’re not addressing what he says is the core issue — the metabolic abnormality that causes the disease.

“We’re so busy plugging the holes in the dam, we don’t have time to see that the whole infrastructure is at risk,” he said. “That infrastructure is a full-body systemic metabolic abnormality called metabolic syndrome, that we’re ignoring while we’re so busy trying to treat all of the individual symptoms of the condition.”

Michel Sade­lain puts his name and new cell en­gi­neer­ing tech be­hind 'ag­nos­tic' CAR-T start­up chas­ing epi­ge­net­ic anti­gens

It felt natural for Alain Maiore and Sebastian Amigorena to bring in Michel Sadelain as a co-founder of Mnemo Therapeutics. A CAR-T pioneer, Sadelain had been involved as an advisor since the early days — enthusiastic about Amigorena’s work in a genetic knockout that could enhance T cell memory and a new class of potential targets he’s discovered — and could introduce some well-known technologies to the toolbox. So they got the initial cash from Sofinnova Partners to plant roots in Paris and New York in early 2019; within a few months, they began to see more clearly just what the antigen discovery platform might unlock.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia spends Soft­Bank's cash in bid to edge out AI ri­vals

Exscientia is sprinting to win the great AI biotech race.

The UK company, having long labored on small discovery deals with large pharmas, raised up to $525 million in a Series D led by the infamous Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in April and followed it up less than a month later with a Bristol Myers Squibb deal that paid $50 million cash and $1.2 billion in milestones.

Now, the Oxford spinout is splurging on a shiny new tool. On Monday they announced they purchased the three-year-old molecule-screening biotech Allcyte, a longtime collaborator, for $60.6 million in cash and stock.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief (Endpoints News)

Hal Bar­ron gam­bles $625M cash on high-wire TIG­IT act, throw­ing Glax­o­SmithK­line in­to heat­ed race and com­plet­ing next-gen I/O trin­i­ty

Count Hal Barron and GlaxoSmithKline in for the TIGIT fight.

The stakes are as high as the risks: While a growing pack of Big Pharma rivals is lending credence to the hypothesis that TIGIT will be the next big immune checkpoint and cancer drug target, the first clinical trials have shown response rates that can be described as modest at best. But Barron’s bet is on the whole “axis” that the receptor sits on, with an eye on testing its new anti-TIGIT antibody not just in combo with PD-1 but also in triplets.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 109,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As Covid-19 shifts the world's at­ten­tion to biotech, Noubar Afeyan's Flag­ship builds $3.4B fund to fu­el new in­ven­tions. Here's the plan

A little more than a year ago, Flagship Pioneering rolled out a monster fund with $1.1 billion in it to bankroll the platform companies they were creating inside their own labs. But it turns out, that was just the prelude to a much, much larger raise, as both current investors — who’ve been reaping the rewards of some booming biotech stocks — join in with new investors betting on more in the years to come.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.